Find out what the Connector Programme is, how to start Co-Creation Projects and how our team can support you.

The Connector Programme

The Connector Programme is for students and staff to work as equal partners, collaborating to improve the student experience.

The Connector Programme intends to engage students to work with staff on projects that positively impact the Student Experience. Students and Staff who work together are called Connectors. If your area of work includes a student-facing element, or if you are looking to develop one, working with Student Connectors provides you with an informed student perceptive for a fresh and diverse approach.

On a personal level, becoming a Connector allows both staff and students a chance to develop. By working together in new ways, we can increase the connection and sense of belonging between everyone at Sussex.

Co-creation projects

Staff and Student Connectors work together on co-creation projects. These projects may last between a couple of weeks to a whole academic year. Co-creation projects involve a strong element of collaboration between Staff and Student Connectors and must aim to have a positive impact in some area of the university for the student experience. Most co-creation projects have a specific aim to support initiatives which meet the objectives of the University’s Access and Participation Plan. As such, you will see reference to this in the supporting documentation.

The budget for Student Connector pay comes from the Connector Programme which is managed by the Student Engagement and Enhancement team. It may also be possible to provide some funding for project deliverables if not covered by your normal budget. If you would like to submit a proposal for a co-creation project, please complete this form. The form contains a wealth of information which should help inform you of the expectations that are in place for the delivery of co-creation projects. It also includes a video for guidance which talks through examples of best practice.

You can also contact us at for further support.

The project proposal form should take approximately one hour to complete including planning time. It may be submitted at any time throughout the year, although consideration must be given to when students will be available for work. After your form has been submitted, it will be reviewed by the Connector Programme Leads and they will contact you within ten working days to inform you of outcomes and advise on next steps. Please be aware that the full process from project proposal to project start will be approximately six weeks including student recruitment.

Support for staff connectors

The Connector Programme team are here for all prospective and current Staff Connectors to liaise with.

We aim to facilitate your work by:

  • helping you refine your co-creation project proposal
  • providing guidance and materials for the recruitment of Student Connectors
  • preparing Staff Connector training
  • co-running induction sessions for Student Connectors
  • giving ongoing advice for managing and supporting a Student Connector project team
  • developing resources to support promotion
  • providing guidance for project evaluation.

A set of expectations for Staff Connectors are in place, including a code of conduct and guidelines for the time commitment needed to support your Student Connectors. To help implement these, Staff Connectors can reach out to their allocated Connector Programme Lead for support at any time.

On completion and approval of a co-creation project proposal, staff project leads are invited to join the Staff Connector Community where they can access the Staff Connector Toolkit as well as build networks with other Staff Connectors working on co-creation projects across the University.

Contact us at any time via We are here to help!

  • Connector Programme impact

    Since the programme began in 2021, 231 Connectors have worked over 23,500 hours on more than 30 different projects.

    Our aim as a programme is to over-represent students from under-represented groups in our Connector community.

    Between 2021-2022:

    • 47% of the Student Connector cohort identified as BAME, compared to 35% of the wider student population at Sussex
    • 24% of the Student Connector cohort declared a disability, compared to 21% of the wider student population at Sussex.

    Our Connector community has included:

    • 80 students who were the first in their families to attend university
    • 44 mature students
    • 11 students who have been carers
    • 7 students from military families.

    At the end of their work on the programme:

    • 100% of Connectors felt like they had developed positive and productive relationships with members of staff
    • 93% of Connectors felt the programme gave them the opportunity to work with people from a variety of backgrounds
    • 97% of Connectors felt like a part of a friendly and respectful community when working on their projects.

    Read more in our Connector Programme impact reports:

  • Awards and achievements

    The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS)

    The Placement Connector Team 2020/21 led by Claire Colburn and Jasmin Tse won The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) Supporting Student / Graduate Employability Award 2021 at the AGCAS Awards for Excellence Showcase.

    They showed effective development and implementation of an initiative with the ultimate aim of improving student/graduate outcomes. Fourteen students were employed as Placement Connectors working through the entire academic year, creating high-quality, high-impact and stable student jobs. The main aim was to help placement searchers in their departments to acquire placement years.

    One of the AGCAS Final Judging Panel said: "The impact of this outstanding project is strong, with impressive evidence of student's voice. The project's goals are clearly aligned with what is important to students. Placements can be quite anxiety-provoking for students, and Student Connectors are a brilliant idea."

    The Sussex Education Awards 2021, Learning Together award

    The Sussex Education Awards celebrates outstanding care and compassion towards students.

    The Learning Together awards for staff and students who have worked closely together, collaborating on the teaching experience.

    In 2021, the University of Sussex Business School Assessment Connector Team won the Learning Together award, for their project which enabled the co-production of refreshed assessment criteria for the School. This was a true staff-student partnership, which sought to drive change in practice within the School.

  • Staff Connector Stories

    Academic Skills

    Clare Hardman (Academic Skills Manager) and Georgia Shakeshaft (Media Studies Student and Student Connector) discuss how co-creation has improved academic skills support at Sussex.

    Clare Hardman:

    “Students are now at the centre of what we do. Our Connectors are passionate and they want to make changes – it is inspiring and exciting to work with them. Their voice reminds us of things that are important to students and helps us to focus on how we deliver our academic skills services.”

    Read more on the Student Hub.


    Professor Claire Smith (Head of Anatomy at BSMS, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor for Education and Innovation at Sussex) and Jessie Phillips (Psychology Student and Student Connector) discuss the importance of co-creation in making Sussex Direct and Canvas accessible and user-friendly.

    Professor Claire Smith:

    "The Digital Connectors are core to the development of the digital environment at Sussex. As we all live digital lives we need to ensure that the digital ecosystem supports our lives and learning. The Digital Connectors are important to enable the student experience and voice come through on all we do in this."

    Read more on the Student Hub.

    Media, Arts and Humanities

    Professor Mary Krell (Director of Teaching and Learning in the School of Media Arts and Humanities and Emma Green (American & Film Studies Student and Student Connector) speak about how co-creation helped faculty think creatively about assessment and feedback.

    Professor Mary Krell:

    "One of the things I love about our Connector groups is that each works a bit differently. On some projects, the Connectors discussed issues around assessment and feedback. Another included a brief to help us seriously rethink assessments to make them more inclusive and better suited to what we teach. I think that the flexibility to support different styles of co-creation is a key reason the Connector Programme is so great."

    Read more on the Student Hub.
  • Frequently asked questions
    1. Can non-academic staff work with student Connectors?

      Yes! Co-creation projects are for all aspects of the student experience, so we welcome proposals from both academic and non-academic staff.

    2. Can all students be connectors?

      Yes! All Sussex students (including IDS and BSMS) can join the Connector Community and take part in our social and development opportunities, if they are interested in collaborative working to improve the student experience. The majority of paid roles are funded by the APP budget so will be prioritised for foundation and undergraduate home students from specific backgrounds, but some paid projects will be open to other student groups.

    3. How are projects funded?

      The budget for all co-creation projects comes from the Connector Programme (students’ hourly pay, and potentially some additional funding for project deliverables). The majority of projects are funded by and must support the aims of the Access and Participation Plan, but central funding may be available for projects which do not have underrepresented students as the main focus.

    4. If the project’s objectives are to improve the university for the whole cohort, is it less likely to be approved?

      We review all projects on a case-by-case basis. Our aim is to approve as many projects as possible, so we hope to be able to approve and fund all proposed projects.

    5. Do staff connectors need to be a certain grade?

      As a guide, staff of grade 5 and above can manage connector projects. All Staff Connectors must have completed Unconscious Bias, Diversity in the Workplace, and Recruitment and Selection e-learning.

      The Connector team are here to support staff connectors with the line management and recruitment process.